The Ninth Circle by R. M. Meluch (the fifth in her U.S.S. Merrimack series) was an enjoyable if challenging read. Seeing as I tore through the book in just two short days I suppose I should be clearer in my definition of “challenging” in this instance. The Ninth Circle is an immensely readable book that flows very quickly and draws you in with sharp little hooks that demand you finish the book before you dream of beginning any other.
That said, it’s also loaded with more sub-plots and little story off-shoots than your typical television soap operas.
What other book, for instance, is going to feature space travel, Marines, aliens, a second “Eden,” xenophobia, Romans, mammoths, sentient foxes, and a race of otherworldly creatures named Clokes, after their resemblance to cloaca? From my experience I’d have had to say “um, none.”
But that’s all in there, of course. That, plus some wonderful character development and smart story-pacing. At times it may seem as if too much is going on but when you reach the last 100 pages or so in the sure belief that there is no way matters will resolve themselves in any kind of way that will be acceptable or worth the effort of your having read the previous 300 pages… Meluch deftly guides you through it all.
Eventually you find yourself sitting in a chair as you stare at the cover of the book you just read and immediately you start gritting your teeth because you will have to wait until the author comes out with the next book to see “what happens next” to these characters she’s released into your imagination.
Fortunately, at least for this one particular reader, I can find some small relief in the fact that there are four earlier stories that I can turn to until such time as her next book comes out.
The Ninth Circle is just what I needed as I’m sitting here recovering from the general allergy-induced crud that has overtaken my household. It kept me entertained and intrigued as I coughed my way through boxes of tissue. How could it not, though?
If there is any kind of world where disgraced Roman space pirates are not entertaining enough to fight off a cold, then I don’t want to know about it.
Oh yes, I forgot to mention that, didn’t i? There be pirates in these here pages. Awesome ones.
The Ninth Circle by R. M. Meluch… go read it now.